Cleat Geeks

Rangers Steal Momentum Ahead Of Game 3

When Capitals forward Joel Ward scored the game winning goal with 1.3 seconds remaining in game one, it looked like Washington was going to continue their dominance over Big Apple hockey teams. In game two, however, the NHL’s top team in the Eastern Conference had other plans for Ovechkin and company.

Washington has done an exceptional job of wearing down opponents this post-season. The Islanders did force a game seven against Washington in the first round, but thanks to the Capitals ability to punish the Islanders along the boards the lowly Isle mustered just 11 shots in an uninspired elimination game.braden-holtby-hair

Going into game two it looked like the physicality of the playoffs may be taking its toll on the Rangers, but all questions were put to rest in a hurry when New York forward Chris Kreider scored just 38 seconds into the first.

Through the first eight games of the playoffs, the Capitals special teams had been the catalyst to success. The penalty kill of Washington had been flawless, posting a playoff leading 100%. The Rangers furthered their lead and hold on Washington when Dan Boyle solved Caps goalie Braden Holtby for a 2-0 lead and the first powerplay goal allowed by Washington all playoffs.

henrikLundqvistThe Capitals spent the rest of the game playing catch up. On the other end of the ice, Henrik Lundqvist proved why he is called King Henrik in New York, kicking aside 30 shots for a rediculous .938 save percentage. Lundqvist has lost only two games all playoffs and will be a big reason the Rangers could be the ninth Presidents Trophy -as the franchise with the most regular season points- and Stanley Cup winner in league history.

Washington has been successful because they limit their opponents to playing into the Capitals strengths. In game two, it was the Rangers who were limiting the Capitals. New York’s Rick Nash, Martin St. Louis and Derick Brassard were clicking, and is something Washington will need to control if they want to continue winning at home when the series goes back to D.C on Monday night.

So far Niklas Backstrom, one of the heroes of the first round for the Capitals with 6 points, has recorded only a single assist against the Rangers. All Capitals players will need to step up offensively going forward, and do so early in game three. In game two Washington put just four shots on Lundqvist, and if Nash and St. Louis are about to get hot, that is simply not enough output from a team that has 12 goals in their last five games.

Game three puck drop is 5:30 Monday evening.

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